Creating a Timeline

March 16, 2010
filed in Weddings
lanning your wedding day can be tough. There are so many factors to keep in mind... Time to take photos, time to take family photos, when to plan the ceremony time and of course, pleasing your guests with food and bountiful amounts of drinks so that everyone can have a good time. I get it... I completely understand this feeling of planning a wedding and planning a perfect schedule to pull together all these important factors.  
While planning our wedding last year, I took in account all these things. I sent what I thought was an almost perfect schedule to my photographer and in return, she noticed that she didn't feel there was enough photo time for Stephen and I, family photos, and bridal party photos. What I didn't realize was, every photographer works differently and TIME IS EVERYTHING!. I looked over our schedule again and realized exactly what she was talking about. I wanted to wait to see my husband for the first time while I was walking down the isle. I wanted to see him cry, gasp, and watch his excited expression unfold during that HUGE moment with my Dad. BUT..... I realized that it was more important for me to walk away from our wedding with many beautiful lasting images then feel that fleeting moment that would have lasted for only 30 seconds. Just because you opt to not a first look before the ceremony, DOESN'T mean you won't have beautiful photos. I just mean, that it's important to provide ENOUGH photo time regardless of what you decide.  
After looking over the schedule, Stephen and I opted to for the first look. I know it's so untraditional to see each other before the ceremony, but I cannot express enough how great this can be for your final product! When I first began shooting weddings, I had no idea what to expect. I thought every bride would have this fabulous schedule and photos would be a breeze. That wasn't quite the case for every bride. I realize that not every bride and groom want a ton of great photos and not every bride and groom see the "light" like I do. But, I want to work with the bride and grooms that desire wonderful photographs and truly appreciate the time it takes to have them.  
I look at photography as an art. Sometimes, we need to take a step back and look at the venue, the light, the couple, and really sometimes evaluate these factors to take a great photograph. You wouldn't expect a painter to paint a fabulous painting in 15 minutes would you? It's the same for us. We need time to paint a great photograph. TIME is what produces the best photographs and TIME is what allows everyone to take a slow breath in and out while we take our time with photos. It makes me so so sad when I hear "only 15 minutes for photographs." We all know most weddings don't usually happen right on time, and why not take time for the most important piece of the day? YOU!!! You are the most important piece of the day and you deserve to take time for images you'll have forever.  
We have photographed WAY too many weddings where we were only provided with 15 minutes for photo time with the bride and groom. To most photographers that's unheard of. We have decided that instead of our bride's providing us with a set schedule, it's important for us to work with the bride on the schedule and possibly make any necessary adjustments. Don't get me wrong, we can take amazing photographs in a small amount of time but if you really want to walk away from your wedding with an abundance of great photographs, we need time. Sometimes weddings run late, family members are missing, and things are just rushed. This is why we really stress a great schedule. we want you to feel relaxed on your wedding day and walk away from your wedding with the best possible result we can give you. I know this sounds redundant but I just can't stress this enough!  
We want to be fair to YOU... When I meet with a bride and groom for the first time, I always make sure we talk about scheduling on our first meeting. Most brides haven't begun a schedule and other brides already have it all put together. If we feel that a bride and groom are not willing to work with us on time and scheduling, we just might not be a good fit for each other.  
We really put our whole hearts into this job and its extremely important to us that we can give you our absolute BEST at your wedding and if the timeline is rushed, we might not be able to do so. 
This is what we suggest for a timeline : (This is by no means what I think every photographer should use, it's just a timeline that has worked perfectly with how WE work at weddings.)  
Depending upon when your ceremony time and when sunset time is, this schedule can differ but this is the one schedule that has ALWAYS given us the best results with photo time .  
• 1:45pm – Photographer arrives 
• 2:15pm – Bride puts dress on and gets ready to leave for photos 
• 2:30pm – 3:30pm Bride and Groom first glance photos  
• 3:40-4:10- Bridesmaid & Groomsmen photos 
• 4:10-4:30 – Immediate Family Photos 
• 4:30- pre-ceremony photos are finished!  
• 5:00 – Ceremony 
• 5:20 – Large Groupings of family photos immediately following ceremony* 
• 5:30 – 6:30pm Cocktail hour at Reception site 
• Bride and groom photos until dark 
The rest of the schedule does not need to be determined by the photographer but this can be a guide for those that need one. 
• 6:30pm – Guests seated & wedding party announced in 
• 6:35pm – Bride and Groom first dance 
• 6:40pm – Bride's Dad says prayer 
• 6:45pm – Dinner served 
• 7:30pm – Toasts begin  
• 7:45pm – Dancing begins (begins with Mother/Son dance) 
• 8:45pm – Cutting of the cake 
• 9:45pm – Garter & Bouquet toss 
• 11:45pm –Bride and Groom sparkler exit 
I have also begun asking each bride and groom for a list of family photos that are important to them. This way, we can quickly move through family photos and no photos are forgotten.  
This past week, we photographed a GORGEOUS wedding using the above schedule. It provided plenty of time to take some creative photos with the bridal party. I love this.
This schedule went so smoothly that we actually had more than enough time for the bride and grooms photos that they were early to the church and the bride and groom were able to enjoy their cocktail hour because we had a lot of time for photos! I love it when this happens. We feel that we can walk away 100 percent confident that we had enough time to do our job well.  
You may be asking yourself about the "first look" between the bride and groom. Maybe your considering this? I highly suggest this for each bride and groom. Why? Oh there are many reasons. I asked my husband Stephen to explain how he felt and why he wanted to see me before the ceremony.  
This is what he said :  
"I cannot even begin to explain how wise of a decision it was for Stephanie and I to do a first look. However, I did have initial reactions that made me doubt whether it was a good idea. My fear was that it could possibly take away from my raw emotions and sincerity that would be expressed in the ceremony. I was completely wrong. I couldn't stop wiping my tears as Stephanie walked down the aisle and read her vows to me. The first look in no way took away from my emotions that would eventually come out in the ceremony. 
I am also so grateful that we decided on a first look because I had the opportunity to share a personal moment with Stephanie before the ceremony. I had the opportunity to physically hug her and chat with her during the first look. I wouldn't of had this opportunity otherwise if I was standing on the altar. I loved that I could have that personal moment that I was so begging to have again on the altar. It was just as emotional and thrilling of a moment than I ever could have imagined. Stephanie looked absolutely beautiful and I was so thankful that I had the opportunity to take every bit of her beauty in beforehand in our own private moment. I am an extreme supporter of the intimacy of a first look after having experienced it for myself.  
It also provided us so much more time for pictures and helped the entire day flow smoother with no rush or added stress. The pictures were are all that remained after our wedding day and without the first look, we wouldn't have had near as many. I'm so appreciative of those first set of pictures and I know that our families are too." 
How I felt: I loved it. I love that we have our expressions documented through film. I love that we were able to have a moment with NO-ONE else around on our wedding day. it was just US and the world stopped for a moment. I am really glad that we made the decision to see each other before because we had TWO amazing photos sessions with our photographers. One before the wedding and one after and each session has different emotions and expressions. I was able to cry with Stephen with no-one watching and hug and kiss by ourselves on our wedding day! It was such an awesome feeling to have those moments without 200 of our guests watching. I saw him cry and gasp in front of me alone. I couldn't be happier with how our photos turned out! We also took family photos before the ceremony and those are our favorites. Our photographer had time to position us and pose us and we had great lighting! Our ceremony started a bit late and we ran out of sunlight pretty quickly so im THRILLED we had just enough time to take the rest of our photos. Im just happy we decided to see each other and I HIGHLY suggest it, not just for photographs but also because our day began even earlier for us and it was well worth it.

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